For major marketers, the only thing that matters is the legitimate content sites where young men spend time. In that realm, entertainment-movies, music and, again, women-are the major themes.
Recent data from Nielsen//NetRatings show top Web sites for young men aged 18-34 include a few practical destinations, such as Price Watch, a price-comparison site often linked on many electronics and entertainment product Web sites. Another is Internet Billing Co.'s iBill, used to pay bills online.
But overall, entertainment-related sites are drawing the most attention from young men. Examples include Fandango, which sells movie tickets online; Maxim.com (as in the Dennis Publishing laddie magazine), with its "Girlfriend of the Day" feature; America Online's Winamp.com, which offers improvements in downloading audio and video; and Yahoo! Sports, with its rich mix of sports information and online fantasy sports.
"One thing marketers are starting to realize is the `college effect': that at any given moment, nearly 13 million college students are spending the majority of their time on computers. And this is having a profound effect on efforts to reach them through other media," says Rishad Tobaccowala, exec VP at Publicis Groupe's Starcom MediaVest, Chicago. "We're still quite early in this evolution, and so far, automobile and financial service marketers are among the leaders in realizing this is the place to reach young people, and particularly young men."
fantasy sports hook
To attract young men, Yahoo! has boosted its fantasy sports content and elsewhere on the site provides sports commentary from hip former players such as basketball's Steve Kerr and baseball's Jack McDowell, instead of pure input from sports journalists, says Brian Grey, general manager of Yahoo! Sports.
Yahoo! Sports' traffic is heaviest on Sundays and Mondays, when participants track team performance and make adjustments. Advertisers on the sports section of Yahoo! include Visa USA, EA Sports and General Motors Corp.
Fandango, which in 2003 experienced the biggest growth in its three-year history, promotes its site with a 30-second brand commercial appearing on 11,000 movie screens nationwide, and backs that up with online and traditional marketing, all handled in-house, says Miyuki Kitamura, VP-marketing and product development. "Young men are particularly drawn to our service because they're online a lot, it's convenient and they tend to go to a lot of movies," she says.
Another big draw for young men online is Maxim's site, which has nearly 3 million unique visitors per month, says Roger Mumford, general manager of Maxim Online. The site's hottest spot is its daily "Girlfriend" feature, but celebrity and sports content is also popular, he says.
"We want the Web site to reward subscribers with complementary content and contests that drive them to vote online but look for results in the magazine to keep people going back and forth,"he says.
Maxim, whose paid circulation tops 2 million, says last year it derived 125,000 of its subscribers through its Web site.
Winamp's core audience is young men obsessed with technology, and their interest in tweaking music and video clips appears to be undiminished, says Scott Richman, VP-marketing for AOL Entertainment.
Advertisers include Toyota Motor Sales USA's young-focused Scion, Nokia, Qwest Communications, New Line Cinema and Fox Pictures. "The tech-savvy young guy spends a lot of time streaming everything from music to movies to radio stations," Mr. Richman says, "and he's constantly trying to improve the experience."